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January 2016

Surgical Training and Planning with Meshmixer

We've talked about using Meshmixer to design prosthetics and now have an interesting story from the Toshiba Stroke and Vascular Research Center in Buffalo, New York.

Dr. Ciprian Ionita and his team have developed a method to create 3D-printed vascular models (or "phantoms") using Polyjet printing technology from Stratasys. The polyjet process can create flexible objects that mimic the feeling of human tissue. Neurosurgeons are using these models for planning complex procedures such as repair of brain aneurysms.

The process begin with a CT scan of the patient's brain. Biomedical engineers extract the critical regions of the vascular (blood vessel) network as 3D surfaces. These surfaces are imported into Meshmixer, and are used as the basis for designing a printable model which the surgeon can inspect. The model can also be connected to pumps which mimic blood flow, and placed into a simulated surgical environment. These planning steps allow life-threatening complications to be identified before the patient is on the operating table.

In the video below, Dr. Adnan H. Siddiqui from the Jacobs Institute describes how one of these models was used to save a patient's life.


Making Helmets Safer with Generative Design

Over the last several decades, generative design techniques have enabled designers and engineers to broaden their exploration of topology and performance of human-scale structural forms in Architecture.  Autodesk is collaborating with Lawrence Livermore National Labs to extend this exploration to micro-architecture and how to design materials at the microscopic level. The researchers intend to generate and analyze the performance of very large sets – thousands to tens of thousands – of different structural configurations of material microarchitectures using generative (aka computational) techniques. Helmet design is an excellent example of a multi-objective design problem where constraining for weight, cost, durability, material thickness, and response to compression and sheer within the range of impact conditions will produce multiple high-performing material configurations.

Likewise, helmet design stands to advance considerably from additive manufacturing.  The internal structures of helmets not only need to be lightweight, but also must absorb impact and dissipate energy predictably.  Advanced additive manufacturing techniques can produce complex material microstructures that will dissipate energy more predictably and repeatedly than what is currently possible with traditionally manufactured helmet pads such as foams and gels.  When paired with advanced computational design methods, additive manufacturing opens up the opportunity for a functionally graded multi-material design that integrates the helmet shell with its cushioning element.  A fully validated, 100 percent additive helmet is an audacious goal, yet this collaboration expects demonstrable progress toward a prototype.

Erin Bradner from the Dreamcatcher team explains more about this exciting project in the following video from Wired exploring the future of football and dealing with concussions.

 


3D PrintAbility: Lower Leg Prosthetics

We've talked about the 3D Printability project before - it's an Autodesk Research partnership with CBM Canada and the Semaphore Lab at the University of Toronto to bring down the cost and time required to develop lower leg prosthetics.

3dprintability

The team has a great video outlining the challenge and how they're rising to meet it!


Optimize your 3D Printing for Structural Integrity

There are two ways to make sure your mesh will result in a strong 3D print and Meshmixer can help you out with both of those:

  • Orient your model
  • Thicken the thin areas

Meshmixer allows the user to analyze the mesh in real time for weak areas and shows a color range to highlight the weakest areas.

Meshmixer Structural AnalysisThe Design and Fabrication team ran a set of tests to confirm the strength gains in changing the orientation of the print. 

Meshmixer Structural Analysis

Some prints withstood more than 10x the force before breaking.

meshmixer structural optimization

For thickening the thin areas, it's very easy to paint in a stronger section. The dense meshes below are the bones of a hand and the interface is still quick and manageable.

meshmixer structural analysis

You can see some video footage of the structural analysis and stress testing in the video below. Even better, get Meshmixer and try it out for yourself! The full details of this research entitled Cross-sectional Structural Analysis for 3D Printing Optimization is available on AutodeskResearch.com.